Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015

Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015

grumpy old guysCFN – Claude McIntosh & Andre Rivette led the charge against Art funding at the Budget Committee meeting Monday.    Groups had ten minutes only to sing for their supper with some follow up questions with Bernadette Clement chairing.

For disclosure purposes I am on the board of our Art Gallery that has run for 30 years on City funding chiefly.    I also, along with chair Wyatt Walsh,  presented to council on a document prepared by councilor Elaine MacDonald who was TAG’s president at the time she wrote the submission and made sure it was submitted on time.   I am not writing this on behalf of TAG and this is not the view of the board of the gallery.  It is my own personal opinion.

The City of Cornwall went into debt by funding the $30M + Benson Centre with lip service paid to the Arts and talk of an Art Centre.   During the election both this term and last there was much talk of supporting the arts and how important they are to a growing economy, especially in a city that stagnantly sits below 50,000 in population.

Nearby Brockville, a city of half our size has seen its lovely Art Centre attract talent that by passes Cornwall and has seen development all around it.  Artists like Jann Arden appear there and do not attend Cornwall.

TAG is the city’s defacto Art Centre as humble as it is.  It’s downtown.  It’s been in the same location for over 20 years of its 30 years of existence and has seen some of the most talented artists in our region displayed.  It’s normal dollar support has been a tiny $70K per year which was cut to about $56K last year.  The Budget Committee now has recommended that it be cut to the $13,500 it has provided TAG this year.

This year TAG has a very strong board with people on it with long and historic ties to the art community.  There’s actually excitement right now.   Where we had a poorly attended AGM (are there AGM’s that are not poorly attended? ) we actually have complaints from some that the can’t attend our info session without joining the gallery first.

Mr. Walsh and myself did the best would could in 10 minutes to share about the new board and the new goals to amp up the gallery only to be met by questions and comments not related to our presentation.     Missing were Mayor O’Shaughnessy, and councilors Mark MacDonald and David Murphy.

Oddly enough Councilor Towndale abstained from voting from what seemed to be a lynching of the arts at this committee.   Councilors Elaine MacDonald, Carilyne Hebert, and Brock Frost recused themselves.   MacDonald and Hebert were part of the last board.  I have no idea what conflict that Mr. Frost would have?  He recently saw his motion for the city to hire a new Arts Coordinator fail.   The City’s last AC is joining the board of the Gallery.

I think it was Councilor Rivette that raised the question if they still were in Quorum as we only had Chair Clement, and Councilors Rivette, McIntosh, Towndale, and Dupelle to pitch to.

Also disturbing has been the TMZ like witch hunt that Todd Lihou and the TC media owned Seaway Media seem to have against the Gallery and its Executive Director Sylvie Lizotte.    All you have to do is search for gallery related stories and you can see a clear bias and position.    Bias is fine in opinion pieces, but in news pieces?

Even myself, who practices Gonzo journalism will give the other side a chance to comment.   Mr. Lihou raced out of the session yesterday and had a story live before I got home.  I had joked with our President about how a certain phrase he used could be twisted and there enough was Mr. Lihou’s piece.

Council as a whole get to review the decision of the budget committee.   Hopefully wiser minds given a moment for somber thoughts will prevail.

You can’t say you want to support the arts and how important they are to a community, and they are, and then not support your arts council and public gallery.

If you care about the arts in our city and wish to reach some of the Negative Nellies you can email them at

arivette@cornwall.ca

cmcintosh@cornwall.ca

dmurphy@cornwall.ca

loshaughnessy@cornwall.ca

And if you value the history of TAG in Cornwall please drop by the info session tonight (March 10, 2015) at 7 PM.  If you aren’t a member it’s only $25 per year to support the arts in your community.

32 Responses to "Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015"

  1. mary bray   March 10, 2015 at 4:59 AM

    Sad really, TAG had such a great promise before pettiness entered the picture.Do they have to ruin everything.Might be a good idea to have a meeting with gallery in Brockville to see if Cornwall also can get off the ground.Bullying & pettiness has & is killing Cornwall

  2. David Oldham   March 10, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    ADMIN…While I am not the one to say that a situation is insurmountable this dilemma is a challenge to the best and brightest no doubt. Without singling out particular individuals around the horseshoe it is suffice to say that sophistication is not present in copious supply. With only a small percentage of Cornwall’s population having the benefit of higher education the term cultured doesn’t describe our population. We do have, what seems to be, a growing number who believe themselves to be refined and capable.

    If only these people could see themselves as other see them. An open mind can be a beautiful thing.

  3. admin   March 10, 2015 at 8:15 AM

    David art is something that appeals to the young and old, the rich and poor, the educated and less educated. It’s not just paintings. It’s music, poetry, dance, film, and so much more.

    For a gallery to survive 30 years on the minimum of support that TAG has had shows that even a community like Cornwall appreciates art.

    I personally find it sad that some narrow minded politics seem to be at play here. None of the questions or comments yesterday seemed to actually be focused on our presentation. It was very odd….

    All you have to do is look at the impact of art on communities like nearby Merricksville and Brockville to see the value of art when it’s exercised in manners that focus on growing a community. We are trying to do that here in Cornwall. Hopefully our council as a whole gets that too and remedies the limited budget committee recommendation.

  4. Hugger1   March 10, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    I think the city budget committee may have become tired of the circus that is known as TAG. When you have the number of changes TAG’s board of directors has had in the last few years it makes one question what is really going on. Chair Wyatt Walsh says things are going to change. But we’ve heard this song and dance before. And the only thing that changes in TAG’s board of directors. And TAG has a history of sending in incomplete and / or late documents when it comes to asking for taxpayer’s money. This is the first year in a few that the documents were complete AND on time. When TAG relies mainly on city money to survive there is a problem.

    As for Brock Frost abstaining from voting it may be due to the issues / court dates that you and him have together.

    If TAG gets its act together and proves it isn’t a circus act then perhaps TAG can reapply in the fall and the city can restore funding. But until TAG and / or its board of directors shows some stability I’d say limiting the funding was the smart thing to do.

  5. Geoff Stephenson   March 10, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    Unfortunately, as we watch with interest, the twisting & turning of different groups & organizations who have in the past benefited from our tax dollars, the same question keeps popping up. Who will pay for all this & the same answer is as always, The taxpayer will foot the bill.I have listened with an open mind to suggestions to cut the fire department & police budgets & I agree that something has to be done. At the same time however, this must apply to all. I realize my opinion might not be well received, but being a taxpayer, I agree that until things start to be better, then everything is open to interpretation. Grumpy old men? maybe because they have a tough job to do & nobody else seems to want to make the tough calls.

  6. Hugger1   March 10, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    Geoff Stephenson said: Unfortunately, as we watch with interest, the twisting & turning of different groups & organizations who have in the past benefited from our tax dollars, the same question keeps popping up. Who will pay for all this & the same answer is as always, The taxpayer will foot the bill.I have listened with an open mind to suggestions to cut the fire department & police budgets & I agree that something has to be done. At the same time however, this must apply to all. I realize my opinion might not be well received, but being a taxpayer, I agree that until things start to be better, then everything is open to interpretation. Grumpy old men? maybe because they have a tough job to do & nobody else seems to want to make the tough calls.

    I happen to agree with everything he said. Enough is enough of every city department and outside organizations seeing the taxpayers as their personals ATM. Tough decisions have to be made and hopefully it starts now.

  7. admin   March 10, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    So let me understand this. You give Fire/Police a free pass essentially, but go after arts and cultural organizations? Do you realize the comparative dollars you’re talking about? That’s like crazed people who attack welfare recipients while we have rampant corporate welfare and flooding of our capital sent off shore to tax havens….

  8. Hugger1   March 10, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    Where did I say fire and police get a free ride? We have to be open to changes in fire and police. As for “rampant corporate welfare” it happens everywhere. Cornwall is NOT unique in that matter. Every department could come in with a 0% tax hike IF they wanted to. All they have to do is look deep into their operations and proposed budgets. But most departments don’t want to do that.

  9. Brian   March 10, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    Thank you for this article Jamie. I find it disturbing that a city of our size cannot support our Art Gallery. Yes it doe appear that many changes have occurred concerning TAG but to cut all funding is really like throwing the baby out with the water. As you said it appears that TAG has a competent and invested board now. So it surely doesn’t look like the right time to shut things down. I for one would love to sign a petition to let our council members know how I feel. Art in all its forms adds to a city and allows those who wish to expand their knowledge of it be a reality! Thanks for the info on this topic and please keep us informed on TAG’S future…

  10. admin   March 10, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    Brian please email the mayor and council and share what you feel. I think that the more people that do that about any given issue the better our community will be.

  11. brian   March 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    Will do Jamie..thx

  12. jules   March 10, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    Jamie I just got to read as far as Mr. Oldham’s comment just now before I read the rest. I told all of you so many times that the albatross hanging around Cornwall’s neck so tight sinking Cornwall deep into debt was the one and only THE TAJE MAHAL AKA BENSON CENTRE and I warned all of you so many times with 3 professional ice pads Cornwall couldn’t even support a farm team some years ago and in no way can it support this albatross. I WARNED ALL OF YOU ABOUT THAT CRAZY THING AND I WAS RIGHT. Cornwall only has less than a handful of educated people and all the rest left town in a hurry and want no part of it at all. To really like art you have to be educated and have an eye and an ear connected to the entire thing. Cornwall’s population is not educated at all except for a tiny half a handful. Brockville’s people are mostly educated people who have retired there and it is a beautiful town compared to Cornwall and where the Thousand Islands are located. Cornwall has been literally finished since 1959 and kept on going under ever since. You cannot build a town on such a mighty poor administration and you need people with education and vision that Cornwall does not have nor will it ever have. Cornwall died a very long time ago.

  13. jules   March 10, 2015 at 2:26 PM

    Jamie I love the art work of those two characters on council and it suits them to a T. I had a good chuckle looking at that and could identify them right away. LOL LOL. ROLF!

  14. Wow!   March 10, 2015 at 3:04 PM

    @Jules
    .
    The Benson Centre was a done deal before this site started. And I dont believe public funds should go to the “arts” in Cornwall. Let them struggle or pick a new hobby.

  15. Jean Beasceau   March 10, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Jules…if Cornwall died a long time ago, why is it that you spend coutless hours on CORNWALLfreenews? Your comments about the Benson Centre are not only off topic, but utterly nonsensical. It’s one thing to be critical, it’s another to be hate filled. The old addage, if you have nothing nice to say… say nothing at all.

    If we want Cornwall to grow, we need to offer current and prospective residents something in return. We need arts athletics, nightlife, infrastructure etc… All come at a cost. I agree with David and Hugger on this issue. I struggle with the mindset that an agency received x amount last year and should therefore get the same amount this year. Show me value for money and doors may open up.

    Jamie I agree with you that investment in the arts CAN net revenue for the city. I have yet to see how this will happen with TAG (admittedly I haven’t spent any grand amount of time researching it). I think TAG would do well to submit data in thier next proposal that secures some tangibles on how an investment in the arts will give the city a return seven-fold.

  16. Hugger1   March 10, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    It gets tiring reading the same old crap about Cornwall, it has to stop.

    The Benson Centre is not a Taj Mahal or an albatross. It is a basic community sports centre. With Cornwall’s history of “farm teams” I doubt we will see one here ever again. It was an expensive lesson. And hopefully the city learned from it. The Benson Centre does not have three professional ice pads. What it has is three NHL size ice pads. There is a difference. As for it costing us money, yes it does. But I ask you to name one city or town that operates a sports centre or arena at a profit or for that matter at a break-even point. There are none. Community sports centres are operated for the community to use. The Benson Centre was built to replace the Si Miller and the Bob Turner arenas. The Si Miller arena was 75 years old when it was demolished. The Bob Turner arena was 52 years old when it was demolished. Both arenas outlived their usefulness. It would have cost millions to bring either arena even close to being up to code or being useful again. Building the Benson Centre was truly the only logical solution and we gained an ice pad.

    Now, in regard to Cornwall only having a handful of educated people I definitely disagree with you there. There are lots of people who are educated here. Cornwall is a small city / town. You learn to take the good with the bad. That’s not always the right way to do things, but some of us do live like that. You’ve said you don’t like Ottawa. So, you have accepted Ottawa’s good parts with its bad parts.

    You have to be educated to like art. Where did that come from?

    Brockville wasn’t a mill town, was it? Cornwall is still suffering from a mill town attitude, thinking nothing is better. It takes years for a town /city to rid itself of the mill town attitude and for others outside the city / town to see old mill towns for more than just being a mill town.

    Look around a lot of cities and towns are having problems. Cornwall is not unique in that matter. Budgets are troublesome in any city / town.

  17. David Oldham   March 10, 2015 at 4:05 PM

    Jules that was rather blunt and extremely harsh do you not think? Being down does not mean out. I like to think that Cornwall’s dark period lies behind us and that as our heads pull free of the sand we will see the light and recognize what needs to be done. There are a lot of good people in Cornwall Jules that simply lack the proper leadership to inspire and unite them in purpose and hope.

    Look at yourself Jules and admit that when you are full of purpose and focused on a goal the rush of energy tou experience carries you through and the end result is a feeling of satisfaction and pride that you wished would never stop.

    Cornwall still has a pulse Jules.

  18. David Oldham   March 10, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    ADMIN…poorly communicated on my part. What I wanted to convey was that without some sophistication from our leadership endorsing the arts in general than a cultural void remains unfulfilled.

  19. willy5   March 10, 2015 at 6:32 PM

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  20. shutupjule   March 11, 2015 at 4:46 AM

    Comment policy reminder

    CFN has a new comment policy. You must use your real first and last name. As well if your email bounces we will terminate your posting privileges.

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  21. mary bray   March 11, 2015 at 6:55 AM

    I hear the Benson Center mentioned often,I have been in it a couple of times,many people were using it.If my memory serves me,it was not the community center that got some people upset,it was the controversial sale of the land underneath it.

  22. Tom   March 11, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    No offense, but do you think maybe they aren’t bothering with the arts because they don’t like you? Maybe they have a vendeta

  23. David Oldham   March 11, 2015 at 3:46 PM

    No offense Tom but that would be suggesting that all concerned are small and petty people. Are some individuals small and petty, no doubt. Do some sink as low as carrying out a vendetta, perhaps. Suggesting collusion to undermine or cause direct injury, really? Do you think they are that smart?

  24. Wow!   March 12, 2015 at 6:00 PM

    The retired chief of police of Ferguson, Missouri made roughly half of Parkinson’s package.
    .
    PPP at 2014 rates. Population insignificant.

  25. Hugger1   March 13, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Wow! said: March 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm
    The retired chief of police of Ferguson, Missouri made roughly half of Parkinson’s package.
    .
    PPP at 2014 rates. Population insignificant.

    And this means what?

  26. Simon   July 5, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    If you recall Mac didn’t want the public library either (check his drivel in the S-F archives), but regardless of the cultural Philistines that roam city hall, art will survive.
    ————————————————————————
    “The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.”

    Winston L. S. Churchill
    (the Royal Acad­emy on 30 April 1938):
    ————————————————————————

  27. admin   July 5, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    Simon if Winnie’s quote is accurate we have a lot of room for improvement in Cornwall sadly….

  28. jules   July 5, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    Mr. Oldham I don’t know how long you have lived in Cornwall but I was born and raised there and lived there for a long time even during the 90’s I went back to live to be near mom who was dying of cancer. I left Cornwall in the mid 70’s 75 to be exact and it never changed one iota in mentality or any other way. Cornwall stayed way behind and you can see it by its mayor and council – the same old fossils around the horseshoe except for a few new ones who have no vision at all whatsoever and are there for their own personal gain.

    Take a good look at Brockville a town half the size of Cornwall and the people who live there (the vast majority) are well educated and are refined and love art (drawings, paintings, theatre, music) and other arts. Art is an expression of one’s soul and after seeing a few paintings I can see there is some talent. I can see TAG being kept at the bottom by a number of counsellors and I agree what some people said and it is hateful and resentful by a number of people who live in Cornwall and the counties and I have said plenty before and I mean it. When a person comes from another city the people of Cornwall become mighty jeolous and resentful and they all know that they cannot compete with people from other cities and they feel themselves as inferior. Jamie has done a great deal of good things and brought out the truth instead of hiding it like it always has been hidden. The mainstreal/lamestream news which includes the rags that you call newspapers, magazines, TV (dumb tube/boob tube) that keeps you dumb and won’t tell the truth but Jamie came out with the truth gonzo journalism or whatever he spoke the truth and the sheeple cannot handle the truth and hurt this man for all the good things that he does. I your wacky Jules would not stand one moment of having abuse hurled at her like what Jamie goes through not one moment and that is the truth about me. The way Cornwall treats people the population will go down even further.

    About Rivette he is an old fossil around the horseshoe but he is very afraid of something when he doesn’t support TAG. It is like seeing a reoccurrence of BOB all over again. Nothing has changed under Leslie at all – only a different face and that is all. As for the joker that you nickname the scribler that is all he is there for and reminds me a little of myself to joke. That Carolyne Hébert is not trustworthy and there for her own personal gain and I can read right through her and much worse than Elaine MacDonald.

    Hugger mentioned about the Si Miller Arena being 72 years old and yes that had to come down but the Bob Turner was only 52 years old and I remember that arena going up and nothing wrong with that one at all whatsoever. What was wrong was the sale of the land which is absolutely true and certain people gained by that shifty, slimy, dirty underhanded deal. Nobody needs an arena with a three pad NHL sized rinks which is totally and completely rediculous. Someone or some people are profiting and of course and now they want a university and who is involved but the same gang who owns and runs Cornwall the Bensons and the Kanebs. Nothing changes in Cornwall nor will it ever and time for everyone to wake up and see how they are being scammed. A university existed in my day and failed – nothing ever changes nor will it ever change in Cornwall until people get a good kick in their posterior by the powers that be and even then.

  29. Hugger1   July 6, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    Jules….seriously….don’t write novels when you post comments.

    In regard to the Bob Turner arena, yes it was ONLY 52 years old. But like the Si Miller it had not been kept up. It would have cost mega $$$ to bring it up to anywherenear acceptable standards. And doing that what would we have? Still a 52 year+ building with new plumbing, electrical, etc. How many arenas are still around that are 50+ years old? Not many.

    Building a multi-purpose sports facility (Benson Centre) is a lot cheaper than building two new arenas, an indoor multi-use sports field along with various other meetings rooms, etc. It’s much more cost-effective to construct multi-use buildings that several single purpose buildings.

    The Si Miller site is still empty. I’m kind of glad. Rather that have the city continue on its “corporate welfare” handouts for glorified apartment buildings, etc. sell it to someone who will pay full value and pay full taxes. These HOTC tax handouts have to be covered by someone. That someone is usually the taxpayers. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

    I think TAG’s funding should be restored at next year’s budgetary process. I was very leery of giving them anything this year due to the mess TAG was in. But they have established stability and have initiated some new programs. Good on TAG for that.

  30. admin   July 6, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Hugger do you think it’s remotely possible that certain people pushed to stop maintaining certain rinks so as to push their mandate of building the Benson Centre? Do you think it’s remotely possible that at least one councilor was connected to a numbered company that got a slice of the bounty of what has been the most expensive parcel of land per acre in Cornwall history in spite of it being polluted?

    Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture even if some of that picture is being purposely obscured….

  31. Hugger1   July 6, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Perhaps. But looking at other cities and their record of maintenance on older arenas it could have happened. If you know a new multi-purpose building is a possibility and / or on the horizon you cut back maintenance to a bare minimum. A perfect example of this is the old North Channel Bridge. SIBC knew a new bridge was a possibility, so bare minimum maintenance was done on the North Bridge for too long. Even if the maintenance would have been maintained on the Si MIller and Bob Turner arenas there would have been massive projects to remove asbestos and other chemicals from the arenas to bring them up to standards. And after that what would we have? 72 year old and 52 year old arenas that would still cost mega $$$ to maintain. As well, their cooling plants were way past their dates to be replaced.

  32. Simon   July 6, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    First off, the Kanebs and Bensons didn’t make a passel of money on the arena, it was PARIS Holdings and the chief partners Healy and Rose that were the winners — the Kanebs and Bensons are probably content to inflate their egos.

    Secondly, losers are the taxpayers that bought this land, soaked in contaminant pollution from the leaking Big Ben.

    Lastly, the best idea floated around for the Water Street and Bob Turner arenas, was to keep the ice plants and make them open air skating in winter, and ball hockey or skate parks for the other three seasons.

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